College Basketball Odds, Best Bets: Our Staff’s Top Picks for Saturday, Including Syracuse vs. Wake Forest (January 29)
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Jim Boeheim (Syracuse)
- Another Saturday in January means another loaded college basketball slate.
- Our staff came through with five best bets for the day, including Michigan vs. Michigan State and Syracuse vs. Wake Forest.
- Check out all five of our favorite picks for the day's games below.
Another Saturday means another long, eventful day of college hoops that consists of betting and (hopefully) earning some cash.
This week, we feature a rivalry game in the Big Ten, multiple Big 12/SEC Challenge matchups, Indiana traveling to Maryland and a critical ACC showdown at night.
Our staff breaks down these affairs and offers up five best bets below to help you prep for a massive Saturday of betting.
Saturday’s College Basketball Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Michigan vs. Michigan State
I really believe Michigan is starting to find something. I think that’s because of the wing play.
Hunter Dickinson has been consistent. He’s even starting to develop a right hand and an outside shot. He should be a formidable force on the interior against Marcus Bingham Jr. in this matchup.
Meanwhile, DeVante’ Jones is starting to get more aggressive from the guard position. He’s dished out 13 assists in his last two games, connecting with Dickinson more in the two-man game. Look for Jones to compete with the Sparty backcourt tandem of AJ Hoggard and Tyson Walker.
Meanwhile, Moussa Diabate has been more consistent playing at the four with Dickinson. When Diabate plays there, it gives him more offensive comfort and Michigan more defensive length.
But in the end, this game will come down to the Caleb Houstan vs. Max Christie matchup.
Freshmen wings are crucial for both teams. U-M and MSU are great teams when Caleb Houstan and Max Christie hit shots. To say they've struggled in losses is an understatement. pic.twitter.com/ldy6cxa8JO
— Dylan Burkhardt (@umhoops) January 28, 2022
Michigan has struggled primarily because it’s hard for its two freshman wings to replicate what Isaiah Livers and Franz Wagner did last season. However, the Wolverine freshmen are figuring it out.
For example, Houstan is averaging 17.7 points per game on 69% shooting from the field over his last three games. That’s equated to three Michigan wins.
Meanwhile, Christie — Sparty’s freshman wing — has scored just 20 points in his last three games on 7-of-21 shooting from the field. Sparty has gone 1-2 in those games.
Between these two players, I’ll take the one trending upward. And I’ll happily grab Michigan +4.5 considering the Wolverines have won their last two games in East Lansing.
Pick: Michigan +4.5 (Play to +4)
Missouri vs. Iowa State
By D.J. James
Missouri is coming off of a near-upset victory over Auburn, which came down to the last possession of the ballgame. Iowa State beat Oklahoma in overtime Wednesday night, but lost its previous two affairs.
This is a perfect spot to fade the Tigers.
For one, Iowa State has one of the most difficult home environments for opponents to play in. KenPom ranks Hilton Coliseum 15th in the nation with a 4.0-point advantage. This should be able to rattle an inconsistent team like Missouri, after just playing a significant game at home.
In addition, the Cyclones boast the ninth-best adjusted defensive efficiency in the country versus Mizzou’s 120th ranking.
Iowa State also turns over opponents on 25.4% of possessions, and Missouri is a very sloppy team, ranking 310th in college basketball with a 21.1% turnover clip. Iowa State will exploit this, particularly Tyrese Hunter (2.1 SPG), Gabe Kalscheur (1.6 SPG), Izaiah Brockington (1.2 SPG) and Tre Jackson (1.0 SPG).
Jarron Coleman, Kobe Brown and DaJuan Gordon all average over two giveaways per game for the Tigers, so they will have trouble maintaining control of the ball.
Missouri also only shoots 27.2% from downtown this season. This puts it at 344th in the country. Iowa State is not necessarily strong from outside, but it’s around average at 33.0% from long range. This discrepancy will be noticeable and could put Iowa State over the hill to cover this spread.
Look for Caleb Grill, Jackson and Brockington to take full advantage of Missouri’s lackluster perimeter defense, as well.
Pick: Iowa State -11.5 (Play to -14.5)
Indiana vs. Maryland
Going back to last season, Indiana has really struggled on the road in Big Ten play.
Since February 2021, the Hoosiers have won only two Big Ten games away from Assembly Hall. One of the wins came last year at Northwestern in double overtime, and the other was earlier this month in Lincoln against lowly Nebraska.
So why am I backing IU on Saturday when it heads to College Park as a short road favorite? Well for one, I think Mike Woodson’s group is very aware of the road struggles and will come out motivated to get this one.
Secondly and more importantly, I think Indiana has some matchup advantages here on both sides of the ball. Maryland has had its issues in the half-court offensively, especially against teams that pressure the ball and can cover Qudus Wahab one-on-one.
Xavier Johnson is a really solid on-ball defender that can make things hard on Fatts Russell, and the Hoosiers have the size and depth on the interior to contain Wahab.
On the other end, Trayce Jackson-Davis should be in line for a big night on the block. Aside from the Purdue game — where he got in early foul trouble and only played around 10 minutes — the junior has been incredibly efficient all year.
I don’t think Wahab or Donta Scott can cover him one-on-one, and Maryland does not have many options in terms of bigs off the bench.
In short, I think Indiana is the better team, but also the team that the situational spot favors. Maryland is coming off of back-to-back wins and could be in for a let-down performance, while the Hoosiers should have plenty of motivation to secure the road win and move to 7-4 in league play.
Give me Indiana to win and cover on Saturday afternoon.
Pick: Indiana -1.5 (Play -2)
Baylor vs. Alabama
The No. 4 Baylor Bears (18-2 overall, 5-0 road) head to Tuscaloosa to face the Alabama Crimson Tide (13-7 overall, 9-1 home) on Saturday afternoon. This matchup offers a break in the arduous conference schedules for both programs as they tip-off in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Baylor looks to continue its three game winning streak after a 74-49 drubbing of Kansas State Tuesday night. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Bears, however, as they had consecutive home losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State earlier in the month.
Alabama has dropped four of its last six contests after suffering a tough loss to Georgia on the road in its most recent game. The Crimson Tide are reaching dire straits after being ranked as high as No. 6 this season.
Alabama has had a tough go at it for its betting faithful, going 7-13 against the spread to date. Baylor has been much kinder to gamblers this season, going 12-7-1 against the line in the desert.
Baylor will likely come into this game at full strength for the first time in nearly three weeks, as freshman forward Jeremy Sochan and senior point guard James Akinjo are set to return.
The Bears are the superior team both offensively and defensively, with an AdjO and AdjD of 119.0 (fifth nationally) and 89.2 (10th nationally), respectively.
Alabama has been very effective on offense this season, with three players averaging in double figures. Strong scoring numbers by Jaden Shackelford, Jahvon Quinerly and Keon Ellis have propelled the Tide to being the 16th-ranked team in the nation in AdjO with a 116.0 rating.
Defense has been the Achilles’ heel for the Tide. Through 20 games this season, Alabama has an AdjD rating of 99.1, which ranks 112th in the nation.
The Tide have struggled in recent weeks and have a grueling stretch of basketball in front of them where they will face three teams in the top 12.
Baylor has overcome recent injuries and two devastating home losses to right the ship. Look for a healthy and rested Baylor offense to wear down the Alabama defense in the second half.
My model is projecting Baylor as 6.95-point road favorite against Alabama, which offers an edge of 4.45 to the stated line.
Lay the 2.5 in Tuscaloosa.
Pick: Baylor -2.5 (Play -3.5)
Wake Forest vs. Syracuse
The Wake Forest offense is elite against man defenses, in post-up situations and driving to the rim, but Wake doesn’t shoot well from the perimeter at all.
The Deacs are considerably below average against zone defenses thus far this season, and while the Orange’s defense can’t guard anyone this year, they still force teams to shoot from the perimeter to beat them.
Wake attempted 37 3s in the first meeting, more than any other game this year, and made just 11. The Demon Deacons were fortunate to win that game, as their win probability was 8.8% with 11 seconds to play before earning the victory in overtime.
This is a great buy-low spot on Syracuse, which has been beaten up in its last two games at Duke and Pittsburgh. The Orange won’t turn the ball over frequently and won’t let Wake get out in transition all that much.
Wake can’t exploit the Orange’s weakness on the glass, and Syracuse has a ton of positive shooting regression coming from beyond the arc after the last couple games.
As bad as things have looked for the Orange, bank on some positive shooting regression and a victory as a home underdog on Saturday night. Sixth man Symir Torrence will also be available after missing last game.
Wake Forest and Syracuse have had opposite fortunes in close games this season, and the gap between them isn’t big enough to warrant the Deacs being road favorites.
Pick: Syracuse +1.5 (Play to PK)
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